Aaron Overton knew a victory over Dunbar High’s football team would be a nice present for his 18th birthday Saturday. But the Patterson High senior quarterback’s biggest wish was the Clippers finally gaining recognition as one of the top teams in the Baltimore City Division I.
Overton and unranked Patterson served notice with a 32-20 victory over the No. 6 Poets at Poly’s Lumsden-Scott Stadium in the league opener for both teams.
Overton had a rushing and two passing scores for the Clippers (2-0 overall, 1-0 Division I), and junior linebacker Josh Beasley returned two Dunbar miscues for touchdowns. Ernest Hawkins, JaQuan Holt and junior Deontay McManus each had a touchdown for Dunbar (1-1, 0-1).
Patterson capitalized on several Poet mistakes to beat the perennial league power, which most recently won the Class 1A state title in 2008, for the second consecutive year. The Clippers said they wanted to prove that last season’s 37-20 victory at home wasn’t an anomaly.
“We wanted to prove to the Baltimore metro area that we’re one of top teams,” said Overton. “They say the big four’s supposed to be Poly, Edmondson, City and Dunbar. We want to beat them every single year.”
“We really took advantage of the opportunities given to us,” said Patterson coach Corey Johnson.
It was Christmas in early September as the teams combined for 12 turnovers with Dunbar making six. Raymond Anderson recovered a Poet fumble late in the third quarter, setting up Patterson at the Dunbar 24-yard line.
Four plays later, Overton (61 yards rushing) powered his 5-foot-10, 225-pound frame into the end zone from seven yards out, giving the Clippers an 18-14 advantage. After Patterson recovered another Dunbar fumble, Overton ran 44 yards to the Poet 5. Two plays later, Overton hit Pete Carter on a slant for a six-yard touchdown on the final play of the third quarter.
A four-year starter, Overton had 139 all-purpose yards Saturday. Johnson said Overton has been overlooked as one of the area’s top performers.
“He’s been playing with a chip on his shoulder,” said Johnson, whose team reached the Class 4A North Region finals last season. “We talked before the game about not being a flash in the pan, beating Dunbar one year and coming back and they beat us again. We wanted to make a statement, and I think he wanted to make a statement that he’s one of the best combo quarterbacks in the city.”
The Clippers did all the talking early. Marcus Woodard hit Dunbar quarterback Bryant Vass (10-of-23 passing for 116 yards), and the ball popped up in the air. Beasley snatched the ball out of the air and ran 79 yards for the game’s first score. After the Poets mishandled a punt snap, Woodard grabbed a screen pass and went 30 yards in the end zone, extending Patterson’s lead to 12-0.
Setup by a 59-yard run by Vass (seven carries for 74 yards), Hawkins put Dunbar on the scoreboard with a three-yard run. Terrence Williams intercepted an Overton pass, and the Poets went 81 yards in nine yards, capped by a five-yard run Holt.
The teams exchanged turnovers on the first four drives of the second half before Patterson capitalized on Anderson’s fumble recovery. Woodard again got to Vass and the ball came free, and Beasley picked it up and raced about 20 yards to the end zone, pushing Patterson’s lead to 32-14.
“Marcus did all the work, I just backed him up,” said Beasley, who had another fumble recovery in the third quarter. “It was a good game; both teams came out to play.”
It was a pretty much a disaster for the Poets. The defending co-city Division I champs had a punt snap bobbled, another punt snap sailed over the punter’s head, and fumbled at the Clippers’ 1.
“You can’t turn the ball over against good teams, it’s that simple,” said Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith. “We gave them 32 points. The defense did a great job. We gave them too many turnovers.”
Overton didn’t want to say Saturday was a statement victory. But it might be time to add another chair to the city’s Division I table.
“We want to keep everybody up,” said Overton, whose team play at Southwestern Friday. “We want to be ready to play hard every week.”
Patterson 32, Dunbar 20
P-Beasley 79 interception return (run failed)
P-Woodard 30 pass from Overton (run failed)
D-Hawkins 3 run (Hawkins run)
D-Holt 5 run (run failed)
P-Overton 7 run (pass failed)
P-Carter 6 pass from Overton (pass failed)
P-Beasley 20 fumble return (Woodard pass from Overton)
D-McManus 10 pass from Vass (run failed)